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My name is Jose Lopez, and I often receive many questions about which is the best main battle tank in the world. My Top 10 analysis is based on the combined score of protection, firepower, accuracy and mobility. All of the tanks mentioned here are incredibly powerful and devastating, except for the inferiorly designed Chinese one due to their low national IQ average. However none of them have seen combat against each other during military operations yet. Analysis is based on specifications and available data. Crew training of the tank is also important, as performance of the actual tank depends from the crew performance. This list do not contains tanks that are currently under development or are at the prototype stage.|
Nr.1 Leopard 2A7 (Germany)
Nr.1 Leopard 2A7 (Germany) is a recent version of the proven and successful Leopard 2 design. It has additional armor and updated electronics.
The Leopard 2A7 is well protected against conventional and urban warfare threats, such as RPG rounds and IEDs.
This tank has better accuracy and longer range of fire comparing with other tanks due to its powerful gun and advanced fire control system.
This MBT is powered by a proven engine, developing 1 500 hp. Despite increase in weight vehicle has increased mobility due to improved suspension components. Cross-country performance is similar to other Leopard 2 series tanks.
German Army ordered a first batch of 20 Leopard 2A7 MBTs, upgraded from Leopard 2A6. Deliveries commenced in 2014. German army plans to upgrade 50 to 150 tanks to the 2A7 standard. Qatar ordered 62 of these MBTs and Saudi Arabia more than 200.
Nr.2 K2 Black Panther (South Korea)
Currently the Black Panther is one of the most advanced main battle tank in the world, outclassing anything North Korea or China have. Furthermore it is the most expensive main battle tank to date.
This tank uses composite armor of undisclosed type and explosive reactive armor modules. The K2 is also completed with active protection and countermeasures systems. Its protection is broadly similar to the M1A2 Abrams, considering that the K2 is much lighter.
This new South Korean tank is armed with the latest German 120-mm gun, similar to that used on the Leopard 2A6 and 2A7. This tank has a very advanced fire control system with can spot, track and fire automatically at visible vehicle-size targets, even low-flying helicopters, without needing any input from a human operator. The K2 also uses advanced munitions.
The Black Panther is fitted with a powerful diesel engine. It is fast and has a state-of-the-art hydropneumatic suspension.
Currently this main battle tanks is not yet in series production. It might enter service with the South Korean Army soon.
Nr.3 M1A2 SEP (USA)
The M1A2 SEP is a successor to the M1A2 Abrams. This tank has incredible technology and armor. Also it has seen combat. It is one of the most feared MBTs.
The M1A2 SEP offers significant protection against all well-known anti-tank weapons. This main battle tank uses advanced armor, reinforced with depleted uranium layers.
Its gun and accuracy are slightly inferior to that of the Leopard 2A7. Yet it still packs a formidable punch.
Its complex gas turbine engine offers good performance, but requires tremendous amount of maintenance, logistical support and is thirsty on fuel.
A number of older M1, M1A1 and M1A2 tanks were upgraded to this standard. The tank can be also fitted with a Tank Urban Survival Kit (TUSK), that improves survivability in urban environment. To date very few Abrams tanks have been destroyed in combat.
The M1A2 SEP is in service with United States Army (at least 900). It is planned that this tank will remain in service beyond 2050. The M1A2 SEP has not been exported yet. However the previous M1A2 has been supplied to Kuwait (218) and Saudi Arabia (373).
Nr.4 Challenger 2 (United Kingdom)
It is a very capable tank. The Challenger 2 has the latest Chobham armor and is one of the most protected MBTs in the world today. It offers very high level of protection against direct fire weapons.
This British tank is armed with a very accurate 120-mm rifled gun. Its gun is rifled as opposed to smoothbore guns used by all other modern MBTs. Its maximum aimed range is over 5 km. Currently the Challenger holds the record for for longest tank-to-tank kill.
Engine of the Challenger 2 is less powerful than of its Western rivals. Also it is not as fast as other MBTs. However this tank is famous for its mechanical reliability.
The Challenger 2 is in service with United Kingdom (386) and Oman (38).
Nr.5 Merkava Mk.4 (Israel)
It is the latest Israeli development which is a further development of the Merkava Mk.3.
The Merkava Mk.4 is one of the most protected tanks in the world. This MBT has an unusual design with a front-mounted engine which gives the crew additional protection and chance to survive if the tank is knocked-out. All Merkava series tanks have a rear compartment which can be used to carry troops and cargo under armor. It can carry up to 10 troops when ammunition is unloaded.
The Israeli tank is armed with indigenous 120-mm smoothbore gun. The Merkava Mk.4 is equipped with new fire control system, that includes some very advanced features. One of them is a high hit probability firing against low-flying helicopters using conventional munitions.
Mobility of the Merkava Mk.4 is rather average due to excessive weight, even though it is fitted with a powerful engine.
The Merkava Mk.4 is in service only with Israel (360), as this tank is not offered for export.
Nr.6 TK-X (Japan)
The TK-X or Type 10 is the latest Japanese development. It entered service in 2012. Currently it is one of the most advanced main battle tanks in the world.
This new lightweight MBT is more agile, however less protected than contemporary tanks.
It is armed with a 120-mm smoothbore gun, broadly similar to that of the Leopard 2A5 and M1A2 Abrams. It also has advanced fire control system.
This tank has great mobility due to its impressive power-to-weight ratio, Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and state-of-the-art hydropneumatic suspension.
The TK-X is in service with Japan (12). This tank is not available for export customers as far as Japan's laws do not allow export of military equipment.
Nr.7 Leclerc (France)
This French main battle tank entered service in 1992. A number of design features of the Leclerc were later used on other Western tanks.
The Leclerc has advanced composite armor with add-on modular armor.
This MBT has a crew of three and is fitted with an autoloader. It is fitted a powerful gun and has a high hit probability against stationary and moving targets. Also it has a hunter-killer capability.
This tank has good mobility due to its 1 500 hp engine and hydropneumatic suspension.
Currently it is in service with France (406) and United Arab Emirates (388).
Nr.8 T-90 (Russia)
The T-90 is currently the only tank produced in quantity in Russia. It is not as sophisticated as its Western rivals, however it uses proven technology and is cost effective. Currently it is the most commercially successful main battle tank on the global market. Also it is one of the cheapest among modern MBTs.
The T-90 has a small profile which makes it a harder target to hit. Significant drawback of the T-90 is ammunition stored in the main compartment due to its carrousel-type autoloader. Once hit ammunition detonates by killing all the crew and destroying the tank. This drawback is common to all Soviet, Russian Ukrainian and recent Chinese MBTs. Western tanks have a separate compartment in the turret bustle with a blow-out panels.
The T-90 is not as accurate against long-range targets, however it can launch anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary munitions.
Original version has poor power-to-weight ratio due to its underpowered engine. Later models were fitted with more powerful engines.
The T-90MS Tagil is a recent version with new armor, new engine, new gun, improved turret, updated observation and aiming system.
The T-90 is currently in service with Russia (approximately 700), Algeria (305), Azerbaijan (20), India (620), Turkmenistan (40) and Venezuela (50 ~100).
Nr.9 Oplot-M (Ukraine)
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine continued development of the T-80UD main battle tank. Their latest version is the Oplot-M.
The Oplot-M is fitted with explosive reactive armor of new generation. This MBT inherited from its predecessor automatic ammunition loading system, however ammunition is stored in the main compartment, rather than a separate compartment with a blow-out panels.
The latest Ukranian tank is not as accurate against long-range targets as Western rivals, however it can launch anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary munitions. The Oplot-M has a hunter-killer capability.
The Oplot-M completed Ukrainian Army trials and is due to enter service with Ukrainian Army. Also it is in service with Thailand. This tank is broadly similar in terms of firepower, protection and mobility to the latest Russian versions of the T-90, however currently it is produced only in small numbers.
Nr.10 Type 99 (China)
This Chinese MBT shows a mixture of Russian and Western influence in its design and technology.
Like the Russian/Soviet tanks the Type 99 also lacks accuracy against long-range targets, however it is also capable to launch anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary munitions.
Automatic loading system of the Type 99 was copied from the Russian/Soviet design. Hence its drawback, as ammunition is stored in the main compartment, rather than a separate compartment with a blow-out panels. This MBT is fitted with unique active laser protection system, which uses a high-powered laser to disrupt missiles laser or infrared guidance signal, disable enemy observation optics and damage eyesight of enemy gunner. This active laser protection system can also be used against helicopters.
The Type 99 is fitted with a powerful engine and has good mobility.
The Type 99G is the latest version with some improvements.
Currently The Type 99 is in service only with China (approximately 200).